Altering legacies as ‘A Farmer in My Own Right’: married women's experiences of farm property ownership in Ireland
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A number of women living on family farms own farm property in their own right. This is an unexplored research area in Ireland. Gender inequalities in the ownership and control of farm property have consequences for women’s capacity to change their roles and position on the farm and off the farm in the broader rural economy. This research focuses on women’s experiences of farm property ownership and the possibilities it holds for women’s active participation in agriculture and decisions affecting their family’s livelihood. Using the Biographical Narrative Interpretive Method (BNIM), twelve women farm property owners shared their life stories. The use of this unique research method provides a new perspective on the issue of women’s farm property ownership and how farm women operate within the rural economy. Resulting from an eleven-stage analysis, four holistic case accounts are presented. Key similarities and differences among ownership categories are explored in relation to pathways into ownership, the type of farming engaged in, familial relationships and women’s identities as farmers. The research explores the dynamics of power of individual agency within structural conditions of the patriarchal system of agriculture, and the potential for change. The challenges associated with occupying the category of 'farmer' are discussed in the narrative accounts. Married women in this study demonstrate that while ownership of farm property changes their material conditions, relationships on family farms are crucial for giving rise to and supporting women’s ownership. How married farm women strengthen their positions and create opportunities for themselves that recognise and affirm their active participation in agriculture, skills, accomplishments and decision-making power are also treated. This thesis argues that women's farm property ownership alters the legacy of patriarchal power and control in Irish agriculture.
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